Friday 31 July 2009

Organic debate (en)rages....

There has been a great deal of coverage in the media this week regarding the FSA’s recently published ‘Organic nutrient content review’. The Review concludes that there is no significant nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced food and that there is no evidence to suggest eating organic food has any additional health benefits.

As someone who has always favoured organic food (if not always able to buy it due to budget constraints) I was quite interested to read the subsequent articles and comments which have followed the release of these findings. Interestingly, the study doesn’t take into account the effects of fertiliser and pesticide traces in food. This to me, kind of makes the whole report a bit of a cop-out really. Personally, I try to buy organic for environmental reasons rather than nutritional ones (after all, if I was so concerned about nutrition, I wouldn’t consume vast amounts of Wotsits on a shamefully regular basis). However, surely any study on how nutritious organic food is in comparison to ‘regular’ food should take into account chemicals found on and hormones found in conventionally produced food? Although my motivation is environmental, I do still like the idea that I am not ingesting potentially harmful chemicals when chomping on an organic apple….for example.

This is also, to keep things in perspective, one study among many others which have different conclusions. It is very difficult for us (and by us I mean those not in a position to test the nutritional content of our food which I feel fairly safe to assume is quite a large group) to know which study to believe and how accurate the information that filters down to us really is. One thing which really interests me is the level of hostility which some seem to feel towards those who buy organic food calling them ‘smug’ ‘rich’ ‘stupid’ and my favourite ‘middle class trendies in the west with more money than sense’. I wish I had more money than sense! Why such anger and contempt? The Soil Association suggests a number of benefits to ‘going organic’. Nutritional arguments aside, these include that organic farmers use natural methods to feed soil and limit pests rather than harmful chemicals such as nitrogen fertiliser which contributes towards greenhouse gas emissions. Organic food avoids pesticides and I don’t know about you but I would like to consume as little of those as possible. Animal welfare is also an important part of organic farming. Organic animal rearing standards prohibit cruelty and guarantee free-range conditions. And, according to the Soil Association’s website, “The UK Government’s own advisors found that plant, insect and bird life is up to 50% greater on organic farms”. Now to me all these things sounds like something I’d like to encourage as much as I can.

If I had the money, I would only buy organic produce. I don’t do it to be smug or to assuage my conscience. It’s because all of the above sounds good to me. So I don’t really understand the anger. I think discourse on the issue is important and the more information available the better. I personally would like to know whether the higher price charged for organic goods is actually justified or if part of it is cynical retailers knowing they can make money from us smug, middle class trendies… perhaps we can move forward this debate with a little less name-calling and a little more thought regarding what kind of farming practices we’d like to support and the best way to go about this….

Thursday 30 July 2009

Wish list....

Ethical fashion retailer FASHION-CONSCIENCE.COM are currently having a sale. This Betty Jackson Organic cotton t-shirt is firmly on my wishlist. It was £32 and is now £22.40. This shirt is 100% organic cotton and as a bonus a percentage of the profits from this tee go to the Environmental Justice Foundation.

Monday 27 July 2009

Ditch the plastic...

One of the ‘green resolutions’ I have actually managed to keep this year is not buying bottled water. I use to buy a bottle of water pretty much every day and I have managed to cut that right down. As an incentive to make sure I stuck with my vow not to buy bottled water, I bought this SIGG water bottle from Obviously I could have just used a glass but that didn’t seem as fun somehow!

Apparently in the UK alone the plastic bottles generated by our bottled water habit in one year would fill the Wembley Stadium 3 times over. Which just seems so unnecessary considering our tap water is safe to drink…

Friday 17 July 2009

Loving Lovelula.....

My first purchase from online beauty store (‘the organic apothecary’) arrived last week. I bought Burt’s Bees Pore Refining Mask after reading its many rave reviews on make-up alley (my own review to follow later once I have been using it for a while but first impression was a good one!). I must say I am really impressed with Lovelula. Their range of natural and organic beauty products is excellent. They provide a great deal of information on a product’s ingredients and organic/natural credentials and are extremely helpful if you have any further questions about a product or range.

My order arrived quicker than I thought it would and best of all, with each order you can also choose up to 3 free samples of certain products. I opted for John Masters Organics Honey and Hibiscus Hair Reconstructor and Reconstructing Shampoo. John Masters Organics are quite a pricey brand so it’s great to be able to try them out before purchasing. I also chose a sample of Elysambre Organic Pre-makeup Base Cream which is a brand I have never tried before.

Monday 13 July 2009


Ethical online retailer are in the midst of a sale with certain items up to 50% off. My favourites are:
Colourful embroidered dress
£66.50 [was £95.00]
Chenna's quilt pumps
£45 [was £90]

Silk mix button waist coat
£63.70 [was £91]

Sunday 12 July 2009

Second-hand style....

As an ardent shopper one of the things I really battle with in my bid towards greener living is the idea that I shouldn’t really be buying stuff I don’t need. And to be strictly honest, at this point in my life, when it comes to bags, shoes, clothes and jewellery I don’t actually need anything. Even if it is fairtrade/ethically sourced/organic….or any of the above. It is one thing acknowledging this and another trying to live by it so in the meantime, one of the ways to assuage my conscience somewhat is charity shop shopping! Because if I’m buying something pre-owned then I am really just contributing towards the recycling process….right? Don’t disillusion me please, I am sure this theory has its own flaws, but let me just have this one for now….

Historically I’ve only really scoured the charity shops for books. But recently I’ve broadened my outlook somewhat and realised that with a little patience and regular check-ins they can be the source of all sorts of goodies. I bought a gorgeous striped-glass jug with two matching glasses recently for £2. So effectively what I’ve bought is recycled glass, I’ve just cut out the middle man!

I have also just ordered my first purchase from Oxfam’s online second-hand shop. The beauty of this option is that you don’t need to keep visiting a shop (which is a necessary component of an effective charity shopping strategy if you want to find something great) which can be time consuming. The online option means you can easily narrow down your search to your size, price range and/or category. And even better, you can then narrow it down by the condition of the item. So you can just search the Used: As New category if you so choose, or if you’re exta fussy, there is also a ‘with tags’ category so you’re essentially buying a new item. As an added bonus, all purchases from the second-hand store come with free delivery until the 20th of July. So check it out for some guilt free shopping that is also easy on the wallet……

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Enjoying London doesn't have to cost the earth....

I agree so much with the general premise of this article ‘Bargain London’ [guardian website travel blog]. Check out the comments to this as well for a whole lot of ideas on what to do in London when money is tight.

London can be incredibly expensive, as can most major cities, but there is also plenty to do on a budget. I am just too lazy to get out and do these things most of the time but as this article mentions, there are a host of websites and guides that can offer inspiration. On a ‘green’ note (just cause I can ;) Visit London even has a ‘green’ section of their website: which not only has ideas on where to go and what to eat, but also tips on how to make sure you’re a ‘responsible tourist’ (which doesn’t sound particularly exciting I’ll admit but is more along the lines of throw away your litter and respect your environment rather than prohibiting any wild behaviour!).

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Keep one Onya (groan....)......

I am truly appalling at remembering to take my own bags with me when I go grocery shopping. Although I generally do manage to take my own bags along when doing a ‘big shop’, I tend to forget when it’s just a general popping in to get a few groceries, or when it’s not for groceries at all but clothes or books or toiletries etc. And I have all manner of cloth/hemp/plastic shopping bags but the issue is just that I don’t take them with me when I’m not anticipating a major shopping trip.

Hence my purchase of an Onya bag. It’s the best ‘fold-up’ bag I’ve seen/bought predominantly because it’s made out of parachute material so it can be stuffed into its own little pouch in a couple of seconds (I used to have another synthetic fold-up bag but it seemed to require advanced engineering skills to return it, folded and neat, into the little pouch it came with). Visit to check out their range. I have the original Onya which is the perfect size to keep in my bag for general purchases.

Plastic bags just seem such a ridiculous way of causing environmental damage when really, they’re so easily avoided. I still forget to carry my Onya bag with me sometimes, and have to use plastic ones, but I’ve definitely cut down and managed to avoid unnecessary leftist environmental guilt! ;)